Thursday, March 20, 2014

Agony Uncle

Yesterday I was indirectly contacted by a young lady who is worried about Michael Gove's reforms to education and asked what she could do.  I thought I would put the question and reply here, to make it more widely available.

Dear R

You wrote

What about those of us that are underage and cannot vote (I'm 16) but are constantly terrified that Michael Gove is going to find some new way to turn our education upside down? What can we do? I was wondering if you have any advice about how people my age can get involved politically? Thanks.

Great question. There are so many things!  Here are just a few:
  • Register to vote

    You may not be able to vote yet, but you can register from the age of 16.  You can do it here.  In most parts of the country, elections are held every year: parish, district, borough and county councils as well as national and EU elections.  This year, on May 22nd, it will be district / borough and EU elections.  By registering now, you can ensure that when you turn 18 you don't miss out because you've left it too late to do the paperwork.

  • Organise an education debate

    It's important to hear both sides of a discussion.  So why not invite Michael Gove and his Labour opponent, Tristam Hunt, to  have a debate at your school?  You may not get them, but this being election season, you might!  And if you don't, then invite the next level down: you can see who they are about half way down this page for Labour and about half way down this page for the Government.  There's a formal structure for debates which your teachers can probably tell you about: if not, by all means ask me.

  • Write to your MP

    Any decent MP (and despite what you hear in the news I suspect most of them are pretty decent) will welcome letters from people who live in their constituency, even if they can't yet vote.  The more letters they get, the more likely they are to be effective in raising the matter with Parliament.  Tell them what your concern is; use examples and facts; explain what you want them to do.

  • Question

    You say you are terrified by what Michael Gove might do.  You might be right.  But you might find out that there are benefits you are not aware of.  Change isn't always bad or good, but it often is uncomfortable.  So if someone tells you that there is something bad (or good) about the changes, ask them why they say that.  Check the facts.  Get away from the emotion.

  • Don't neglect your school work

    Whatever you may think of the government, don't get so involved in politics that your school grades suffer.  After all, this is about getting you the best possible education.

There is so much more, but how about that for a start?  You could also join your favourite political party: all parties are desperate for members, especially young members.

You asked "What can we do?"  The answer, one way or another, is to get involved.

Best wishes

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